Last year, Damir Kreilach joined Real Salt Lake’s preseason camp in Orlando, Florida, after the team had already spent some time together getting acquainted. His later addition meant a fast-paced acclimation process as he integrated himself into the team.
Now a year into his tenure with RSL, Kreilach reflected a bit on his first MLS season and how he is adjusting in year two.
“One year ago, the team accepted me very well,” he said on Wednesday after the first of two training sessions for the day at UCLA. “At the end of the day, last year was so successful, but we want to improve ourselves and be much better this year.”
In 2018, Kreilach earned RSL’s Golden Boot and MVP honors after notching 12 goals and eight assists in the regular season. He also added three goals and one assist in three playoff matches to help RSL within striking distance of reaching the Western Conference Finals. Now entering his second season in MLS, the 29-year-old is looking to build on his first campaign and take things even farther in 2019.
That all starts in training camp, where Real Salt Lake Head Coach Mike Petke is lining his squad up to expand on the progress the team made in 2018 while integrating new players into the mix. While there is plenty of time before the season opener on March 2 against the Houston Dynamo, Kreilach is among the leaders in the locker room that are spearheading the coaching staff’s message on the field.
“We want to show our best and listen to what the coaching staff wants to do in each practice,” Kreilach said. “In those first two and a half days, it was great. The work rate was great and we have to keep going.”
RSL had two training sessions on Wednesday, with players from UCLA filling out the numbers in the second session of the day. With fitness being the focus early on, the day finished with a series of sprints. RSL continues training on UCLA’s campus through Saturday before returning to Utah for the second leg of preseason.